Indole supplementation ameliorates MCD-induced NASH in mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • Indole is a microbiota metabolite that functions to protect against obesity-associated non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The present study examined the extent to which indole supplementation alleviates the severity of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is the advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In C57BL/6J mice, feeding a methionine- and choline-deficient diet (MCD) resulted in significant weight loss, overt hepatic steatosis, and massive aggregations of macrophages in the liver compared with control diet-fed mice. Upon indole supplementation, the severity of MCD-induced hepatic steatosis and inflammation, as well as liver fibrosis, was significantly decreased compared with that of MCD-fed and control-treated mice. In vitro, indole treatment caused significant decreases in lipopolysaccharide-induced proinflammatory responses in hepatocytes incubated with either basal or MCD-mimicking media. However, indole treatment only significantly decreased lipopolysaccharide-induced proinflammatory responses in bone marrow-derived macrophages incubated with basal, but not MCD-mimicking media. These differential effects suggest that, relative to the responses of macrophages to indole, the responses of hepatocytes to indole appeared to make a greater contribution to indole alleviation of NASH, in particular liver inflammation. While indole supplementation decreased liver expression of desmin in MCD-fed mice, treatment of LX2 cells (a line of hepatic stellate cells) with indole also decreased the expression of various markers of hepatic stellate cell fibrogenic activation. Lastly, indole supplementation decreased intestinal inflammation in MCD-fed mice, suggesting that decreased intestinal inflammation also was involved in indole alleviation of NASH. Collectively, these results demonstrate that indole supplementation alleviates MCD-induced NASH, which is attributable to, in large part, indole suppression of hepatocyte proinflammatory responses and hepatic stellate cell fibrogenic activation, as well as intestinal proinflammatory responses.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr Biochem

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhu, B., Li, H., Lu, B., Guo, X., Wu, C., Wang, F., ... Wu, C.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Zhu, Bilian||Li, Honggui||Lu, Bangchao||Guo, Xinlei||Wu, Chiashan||Wang, Fen||Li, Qingsheng||Xie, Linglin||Glaser, Shannon||Francis, Heather||Alpini, Gianfranco||Wu, Chaodong

publication date

  • September 2022